Sunday, March 30, 2008
Moab Highline Adventure
If any of my adventures on this site have the properties befitting of the word "mild", this trip was probably the furthest. Leaving Boulder last friday (March 21st) and returning Wednesday March 26th, we were in Moab for quite some time. The trip was prepared meticulously, making certain that everyone who was going had accurate directions to the obscure destination, and that all the requisite gear would be there at the start of the trip. Mary and I drove out to Moab, meeting Joe, Dave, Josh, Jesse, Lindon, Nathan, Dylan, Greg, Josh, Kale, Deon, Terry, Larry, Chris, and a few others at the designated pulloff. Thats right, we had more than 16 people all setting up and crushing highlines at different times during the weekend/week.
The "Fruit Bowl" was discovered by Terry on Google Earth one day last year as he was dreaming of highline in the poor winter weather. A promising prospect, Terry went to scout out the area and discovered some great highlining potential. After bolting the area and establishing the anchor points over the weekend of the 15th-16th, three different lines were ready to walk, a 47' line, a 62' line, and an 88' line. On the 22nd we went and rigged the 47' line and the 88' line, and everyone had their fix of highlining fun. I cruised the 47' line several times, doing tricks and such, but it was a really hard line to learn on, and no first-timers were able to make it all the way across (although Mary got half way on many occasions).
During these two days, we bolted the 130' highline in the same spot, and prepared the bolting locations for the 92' line. Also, Dean Potter came and established a 110' line adjacent to the fruit bowl, and rigged that today. He will be base jumping off of that line in the coming weeks. For more information about Dean's basejumping escapades, see the following link:
We stayed till Monday, making the 1.5 mile pilgrimage back to the cars as infrequently as possible. Many people were able to walk the lines, and it was a really fun time.
On Tuesday we traveled to the Gemini Bridges area of Moab and set up two highlines: the 35 foot birthday gap, and the 80 foot dog hole gap, the former being about 200 feet above the ground and the latter being about 100 feet above the ground. I walked the birthday gap dozens of times, with my hands behind my back, while surfing, etc., but the doghole was a bigger challenge. The line was quite heavy, and heavy long lines are really hard to control. You would get halfway out onto the line, where the exposure was undoubtedly the greatest, and the line would start shaking. You try to keep your fear in check, but this usually means tensing up your body, and without being able to relax, your body amplifies these wobbles in the line until it starts to feel like you cant stand on it anymore. (Imagine walking across a log over a creek or something, and your friend decides that it would be fun to start moving the log back and forth while you are trying to walk across it; the chances that you fall are very high). Anyway, you really had to fight it to get across, and because I don't weigh much compared to the other highliners, it seemed harder for me. Anyway, I managed to make it across and was really excited. After that I focused on helping Mary to walk the birthday gap.
Mary had a really weird method of walking, which consisted of attempting to walk the whole line backward. Apparently it is easier to start walking the line while walking backward, as it doesn't feel exposed at all. I didn't think it was possible, but Mary pleasantly proved me wrong, crossing the line with grace and confidence. As this was her first successful highline, naturally she was ecstatic. We were all pleased too, because from what we can gather, less than 25 women in the entire world have ever walked a highline, and Mary just recently joined that elite rank. Awesome! Joe also managed to send the line right before sundown, marking his first highline as well. It was a successful trip for everyone!
After all the highlining festivities, Mary and I planned to go do some climbing as well. There are many many excellent desert towers in the area, and we wanted to climb some of them. Unfortunately, we didn't realize how tired we would be after highlining for 4 days straight, so we decided to come home instead and recover for a few days. We needed it too. I am definitely pleased with the trip as a whole, and can't wait to return. Terry, Larry and Dean have all established some permanent lines in the area and are leaving them up all spring. Dean's going to be base jumping off his, and Terry and Larry just wanted to get all three lines up to get some epic shots.
In the future we plan on having a bigger highline party at the Fruit Bowl, as it is now the highest concentration of highlines in one place, in the world. It was fun to be a part of the beginning phases of its establishment, and I'm excited to see where the sport goes in the future. All in all, it was another successful adventure!